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Omara “Bombino” Moctar studied the guitar in his teens while working as a shepherd in Algeria and Libya. Since then he has traded in his shepherd’s staff for the six string and I’m happy to go wherever his music leads me.
Bombino’s latest release, Nomad(Nonesuch) is full of the desert blues drone that has been perfected by Tinariwen but topped off with a piercing guitar tone the likes of which I haven’t heard since the late great Albert Collins.
Aside from the excitement of hearing Bombino and his band interpret the music from Nomad, It is their actual presence in Minneapolis that excites me. Bombino and other Tuareg musicians young and old are fighting for their right to do what I do every day without consequence, pick up an instrument and make music.
Here’s a great piece from October 2012 about the war on music in Mali.
On June 11th, Bombino returns to The Cedar to kick off our African Summer concert series. Our dance floor will be wide open and Bombino will be ready to lead us through the desert once again.
M.Rossetto - Marketing Coordinator / The Cedar
Many thanks to those that voted us the 2013 BEST WORLD MUSIC VENUE in the world, on About.com! Two years in a row is making us blush ;)
The Cedar Cultural Center (via the 1980-81 Augsburgian yearbook).
Handwritten setlist from last night’s Bajofondo concert
When was the last time an Academy Award winning composer made you shake your hips? On second thought, don’t answer that, but few have the musical versatility displayed by Bajofondo frontman Gustavo Santaolalla, who is arguably more famous for crafting the scores for such films as Babel, The Motorcycle Diaries and Brokeback Mountain than he is for his myriad of successes as a musician and pop singer. In Bajofondo he has assembled a talented and diverse team of musicians from his home in the Rio de la Plata on the border of Argentina and Uruguay that combines the area’s traditional folk music with modern textures of House, Latino Alt-Rock and Trip Hop to create a scintillating blend they call “Electrotango”.
Playing against a projected backdrop courtesy the band’s in-house VJ Veronica Loza gave the 8 piece band a cinematic quality that was heightened by their tendency to pause for dramatic effect. Songs would often emerge from a lilting violin melody courtesy of Javier Cassala, or the plaintive groans of Martin Ferres’ bandoneon, an Argentinian accordion and swell to a full-blown frenzy by the end of the tune. As Santaolalla was quick to point out, Bajofondo’s specific mission as a band is to spread the power of a simple word: “bailar,” and they harness that power well, as it is physically impossible to resist the urge to dance in their presence.
Snappily dressed Cedar patrons in suits, bolo ties and spats twirled their partners and tangoed with a practiced and graceful ease near the back of the room, while up front the crowd had an electric atmosphere that wouldn’t be out of place at a rock club in full swing. With a group of musicians so magnetic and captivating, the widespread dancing was almost a foregone conclusion. Santaolalla makes a fantastic bandleader, with a deep and clear voice that contained a hint of grit and layers of expressiveness. Gustavo was also assisted in guitar duties by Bajofondo’s other main composer Juan Campodocino, who provided an excellent foil for the frontman’s mischievous and charismatic stage presence.
Part of the appeal of Bajofondo is how seamlessly they blend different nationalities of dance music to create a cohesive sound all their own. The bleeping synths and sidechained drums of Chicago House provided a robotic backbone for the thoroughly organic Latin, Roma and Jamaican dancehall styles that Bajofondo loves to experiment with. Here, a smattering of Reggaeton percussion, there a blistering rock guitar solo, all anchored by the deeply funky playing of rhythm section players Gabriel Casacuberta and Adrian Sosa. Some of my personal favorite elements in the night came from Bajofondo’s willingness to dabble in hip-hop, as keyboardist and DJ Luciano Superviellle combined a natural talent for rapping with several inventive scratching portions. Even Casacuberta got in on the fun, passing his bass off to the roadie for a moment to take his turn to spit a verse or two.
During their final song, the large band, which already tested the limits of the Cedar’s stage, invited a cadre of ladies from the audience (and a few determined men) to dance with them onstage, shaking the floor and making for a wonderful moment of connection between the performers and their adoring public. As Bajofondo took their ceremonial bow at the night’s end, they had unquestionably succeeded in spreading bailar to The Cedar once again.
— Zach McCormick, Cedar Intern
It’s the last day to vote for The Cedar on About.com’s Reader’s Choice Awards!
We won Best World Music Venue last year and we’d love to stay the best! We’re neck and neck with Legion Arts/CSPS in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Will you vote and show everyone that we are the best world music presenter in the country?
With fleet-fingered prowess that would make Swedish Metal virtuosos run in terror, the two men that make up the touring arm of Terakaft are very modestly some of the best guitarists I have ever seen. Aging lion Liya Ag Ablil, who performs under the name Diara, is the group’s rhythm guitarist and founder, and is joined by his nephew Sanou Ag Ahmed, who acts as the group’s utility man and alternated between guitar, percussion and vocals. Diara is well known internationally as a founding member of legendary African Rock pioneers Tinariwen, and while the years have weathered his skin like well-worn leather, he is still every bit a rock star. Like a Tuareg Keith Richards, the journeyman musician had an arsenal of effortless guitar licks at his disposal and, even more like Keith, a toothy pirate’s grin for women of the crowd.
Younger Sanou was equally adept at his instrument, be it the 6-stringed axe or a traditional drum. Bringing a more modern style of playing to the table, Sanou’s sinuous leads weaved in and around the steady strumming of Diara with a familial chemistry. With a clear voice untarnished by age, Sanou’s vocals made a wonderful counterpoint to the scratchier notes of his uncle. During the a few of their show’s climaxes, the shyer Sanou even picked up his feet for a graceful bit of dancing, never missing a string.
Local icon and former Shangoya drummer Tony Paul stepped up to fill in on percussion during Terakaft’s second set, and the addition of the veteran player was a wonderful surprise. Filling out the shorthanded group’s sound, Paul’s well-trained hands beat out rich polyrythms and allowed Sanou and Diara focus on playing guitar and singing. The second set really showcased the nuanced writing of Terakaft, whose songs defy easy western genre tags. There was certainly some flavors of High Life and Afro-Funk that have made waves on our shores, as well as traditional sounds from Terakaft’s home in Mali. But the smooth lyrical solos of Sanou recall Country-Blues barnburners like Chet Atkins or Carl Perkins, and Diara’s rhythm playing would periodically build to such a fury that it resembled proto-surf-punks like Link Wray.
While the crowd certainly responded to this display, Diara would occasionally decide that the energy level in the room was nowhere near his liking and lean in close to the front row, yelling whoops of encouragement and kicking out with his sandaled feet. When they closed their final set of the evening, Terakaft exchanged hugs and fist-bumps with their guest drummer, and lapped up the crowd’s adoration before an exciting encore, and informational Q&A, closed out the night.-Zach McCormick Cedar intern
Watching Terje Isungset examine ice is mystifying. Like a Nordic Stradivarius, he lifts individual pieces to his ear, taps them lightly, and listens for something none of the rest of us can hear. From time to time, a small smile will cross his face, and he’ll nod to his dedicated crew that this piece has passed the muster. Other times, his brow furrows, he shakes his head silently, and moves on.
Yesterday, Isungset and his team met up with the press at Ace Ice in South Minneapolis to begin work on the instruments for his performance at The Cedar tonight. As it turns out, not all ice is created equal, and the tonal qualities of freshwater ice are preferable to machine-made blocks of frozen, distilled water. Both were available for him to peruse in Ace’s massive warehouse, with the “real” ice in question being sourced from our very own Crystal Lake near Burnsville.
Bill Covitz acted as Isungset’s primary technician and carver, shearing the chunky river ice with the practiced ease of a man who wields a miniature chainsaw frequently. Covitz looks for ice with as few impurities as possible, and his practiced eye easily spotted cracks and snow cavities that the casual observer would miss. Once the block had been broken down into smaller samples, Isungset led us to Ace’s gargantuan walk-in freezer, so he could further test the ice’s sound in a more stable environment.
Using an iPhone Chromatic Tuner application and their own gifted sense of hearing, Terje and his assistant assembled their potential instruments on a highly technical wooden pallet and checked each piece for resonant frequencies. Sometimes using a smaller shard as a mallet, the musician would tap on his assembled blocks like a percussionist on a marimba, sampling the relative tones. During one such session, his “mallet” broke off and with a sheepish grin he announced, “Well, it is very fragile”.
—Zach McCormick, Cedar Intern
(Video by Michael Rossetto)
Come see the fully assembled ice instruments in action tonight at The Cedar. More information here. Catch this once-in-a-lifetime performance before it literally melts away.
Photos of the carving can be seen here:
It takes a special kind of band to make septuagenarian Minnesotans shake their hips and shoulders like teenagers, but the Brooklyn-based Bhangra Brass group Red Baraat had a sea of balding heads doing just that last night at The Cedar. Fusing the clattering, triumphant music of Northern India with the swinging second-line horns of New Orleans and a healthy dose of contemporary funk and hip-hop, Red Baraat was a raucous and joyful sight to behold.
Starting the night with their 5 brass players droning in hypnotic unison, the band’s first song transitioned into a sweetly soulful showcase for the soprano sax, until bandleader Sunny Jain began whipping his dhol at a frenzied pace. Effortlessly falling into sync, the 7-piece band ramped up the energy in a percussion-heavy rave-up that would be characteristic of most of the night. Not inclined to let his band do all the work, Jain led the crowd in spirited chants and sing-along hooks, and even attempted to teach us some dhol rhythm patterns via call-and-response. Unsurpsingly, Red Baraat’s frontman ran circles around our Midwestern tongues, but his display of phonetic fundamentals was almost as impressive as his lightening fast drumming.
Red Baraat is far from being a one-man-show however, and the synergy of their ruling horns provided much of the night’s entertainment. Trumpet player Sonny Singh brought jazz precision and a blistering display of chops to his instrument, tearing out solo after solo throughout the night. Immediately after such impressive displays, without so much as a pause for breath, Singh would launch into a sweetly impassioned vocal delivery that was definitely Red Baraat’s secret weapon.
Rounding out the brass family were MiWi La Lupa on bass trumpet and Ernest Stuart on Trombone. Between their throaty and powerful playing and their energetic stage presence, the duo made sure the spirit of New Orleans Funk was alive and kicking on stage left. Not to be outdone by Singh and Jain, La Lupa also took a turn at the mic, shaking his dreadlocks to a melodic rapped verse flavored by Jamaican dancehall cadences. Even the man with the big horn, John Altieri, joined in the fun, rapping another verse later in the night with a quintessentially New York flair.
Veering wildly from American funk styles reminiscent of contemporaries such as Menahan Street Band or Antibalas to more traditional Indian styles such as Punjabi, Red Baraat seemed to tailor the tunes to whatever got the best crowd response. Deftly navigating shifting tempos and complex polyrhythms while keeping the energy somewhere up in The Cedar’s rafters, the 7-piece group brought their set to an explosive conclusion before returning for a blazing encore. Giving the musicians one last chance to strut their stuff, this two-song finale was crossfire of shrieking trumpet solos and fiery trombone from Stuart. While the band seemed like they could keep this pace up for an eternity, they finally ended their set with crash-out of epic proportions, letting the young and merely young-at-heart finally rest those shoulders and hips.
—Zach McCormick, Cedar Intern
“Dubbing its raucous, teeming sound Brooklyn bhangra, Red Baraat is a ferocious dhol’n’brass octet that mashes together the brass band tradition of Northern India, jazz, dub, ska, hip hop, the rousing spirit of New Orleans’s funkified brass movement, and contemporary urban attitude. Sunny Jain, who leads the band and plays dhol (a handheld, conga-like Punjabi drum), played cutting-edge jazz with such heavyweights as Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Muhanthappa before deciding to stir crowds into sweaty furies with RB’s highly contagious stew in 2007. The group’s second studio album, Shruggy Ji, is a joyous maelstrom of muscular horns (six strong, driven by sousaphone and bari sax), marauding improvisations, complex rhythms, and ragged, adrenalin-laced vocals. It’s celebratory music that’s sneakily cerebral, equipped to ignite a party on any continent. “
Our music video premiered on Impose Magazine today.
Carroll is on a roll! Aside from being on the Local Current’s regular rotation, the recent Macalester College graduates won one of the three coveted spots in Vita.mn’s Are You Local? contest this week. Their debut EP Needs came out just one week ago.
Catch a glimpse of Carroll at The Cedar on Thursday, February 21st when they play at The Cedar along with The Velveteens, Bad Bad Hats, and more.
Dreams taking shape.
Just a little taste of the art installations happening at The Cedar right now for Dream Sequence tonight. You have to see it to believe it!
Introducing: Teenage Moods
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! It is our great pleasure to introduce Teenage Moods. Once again our friends at Radio K came through with an awesome video. Appropriately enough, the song captured involves a dream filled with stars, rockets, and the moon.
Teenage Moods will be piloting the rocket through your teenage dreams tomorrow night as they close things down at Radio K and The Cedar’s DREAM SEQUENCE with their unmistakeable brand of positive party and fun ruckus.
More Teenage Moods here:
Tickets and show info here!